torstai 27. lokakuuta 2011

REVIEW - Zombie Nation (1990)

GENRE(S): Shooter
RELEASED: December 1990

KAZe and Meldac are two software houses that "made name for themselves" in the mid-90's by producing unrelated pinball titles for different platforms. In 1990, they worked together on a Game Boy title by the name of Mercenary Force. Later that year, they brought us a cult NES game called Zombie Nation. Sporting one of the coolest titles of the era, Zombie Nation is one of those games that pretty much promises fun times with its name alone. Some truths are better left unknown.

What the hell, man?!

In 1999, a meteorite falls into the Nevada desert. In reality, this meteorite is an ancient evil known as Darc Seed. He shoots magnetic rays, turning the citizens of the United States into mindless zombies and even bending the Statue of Liberty to his will. Darc Seed is in possession of several deadly weapons, the deadliest of which is Shura, a legendary samurai sword. Namakubi, a spirit of a legendary samurai in the form of a floating head, travels to the United States to free the people of Darc Seed's tyranny and reclaim the legacy of his kin.

The real 9/11.
What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? The title of the game - Zombie Nation, how cool is that, especially for a game released in the early 90's? - prompted me to check out what it's all about and review it right now, rain or shine. After all, I just reviewed a whole bunch of games in the biggest zombie-related video game franchise in history, it was time to check out a more obscure title. In all seriousness, I knew Zombie Nation was going to suck, royally - there simply was no alternative to that. It was produced by two derelict companies, for the NES, and somehow, it was obvious from the beginning that the game would not have much to do with zombies. Well, the truth is that Zombie Nation doesn't have much to do with anything.

Zombie Nation is a damn ugly game with even uglier design. I don't know who came up with the whole plot, especially with the main character being a floating head, but I want to have some of the stuff they had. By the extremely basic NES standards, the music ain't that bad... for intro music. There's really not a tune that could carry a whole level; they all sound like intros, which some Castlevania games have, for example. They loop at a pace that makes them sound like they last five seconds a piece.

To put it simply, Zombie Nation (or is it Samurai Zombie Nation?) is a very basic shoot 'em up game with a less basic, should I say acid-induced plot, in which you control Namakubi, a floating, angry-looking face on his quest to free the (apparently) zombified nation of the United States of America from an evil... hmmm, being... known as Darc Seed. Apparently, Namakubi doesn't actually give a shit about the megapower of the world being reduced to a zombie nation (I just have to repeat the title, all the time), he's just after the samurai sword in Darc Seed's possession. Oh, well, whatever prompts him to take flight, and spit and vomit on a lot of people. Seriously.

Look at me, I'm a head on a mission!
No matter how stupid the game's presentation is, the most important key to any game's attraction and longevity is still its playability. If you're an ABSOLUTE arcade shoot 'em up fanatic, you might ACCEPT Zombie Nation as the somewhat of a cult title it is, but it's shit which you will not actually enjoy, I can tell you that right now. I don't even know what deals damage to Namakubi and what doesn't, because there's all kinds of debris flying on the screen all the time, and mostly, he seems unharmed by it, but then, his health might start draining all of a sudden even if nothing's actually happening to him. I passed one of the four levels of the game to the halfway mark with flying colours, taking shots from all kinds of shit that flew around, but I only lost two or three ticks of health; next, I was flying through practically empty space, and my health started to drain for a cause I was unable to point right away. It's safe to assume that everything MIGHT hurt you.

You cannot turn around, which makes shooting enemies behind you perfectly impossible... or anything that's behind you. Yeah, I saved the weirdest point for last; you pretty much have to shoot everything in this game, including buildings. It seems like a cool idea, but what's strange about it is that I really don't know how intentionally leveling New York City will help Namakubi in either one of his missions. This is more like helping in destroying a nation instead of saving it. The plot's just chocked with contradiction.

It's useless to prolong such a short story. Zombie Nation is a game I just had to see for myself. Now I've done it, I had a few laughs with it, especially the plot, and it's perfectly safe to say it doesn't have anything else to offer me. Not even decent gameplay - we've all seen much better games of its kind, released much earlier. It's for the most relentless shoot 'em up and cult game fanatics only. 

SOUND : 5.0


a.k.a. Abarenbō Tengu (JAP), Samurai Zombie Nation

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